GVEA Spotlight: Stacey Baldrige

Organizing the Records of GVEA’s Long History in the Interior

Anyone curious about the history of Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA) should ask Records Manager Stacey Baldridge. 4 years ago, she was hired to inventory a historical paper trail starting from GVEA’s incorporation in 1946 to the present. It’s a project that has taken her through file cabinets, warehouses and digital systems in Fairbanks, Healy and North Pole, turning what some might think of as insignificant documents into a useful database of the utility’s service in Interior Alaska.

Cataloging historical documents is just part of what Stacey does day to day at GVEA. The utility is legally bound to maintain an accurate log of its activities. Stacey says there are certain documents that GVEA retains for request or if the utility should ever face an audit. Her job is to identify these documents, provide them with an accurate digital file name, any necessary metadata and a retention date, then file them on a networked system where other employees can access them as necessary.

“In addition to managing records, I also configure the SharePoint system and train people on how to use it,” says Stacey.

She says the process of cataloging requires the digitization of media from paper to PDF or from microfiche in the case of really old documents. With the amount of backlog, Stacey says she works in chunks—spending the day on a couple of drawers in a file cabinet or reviewing newer
documents sent by current employees. She says most newer documents are easier to manage since they are closer to the final format stored on SharePoint.

“Getting the paper under control is a big thing,” says Stacey.

When she began working at GVEA, Stacey developed an accurate records retention schedule. She said an outdated one existed when she first took the position, built on a generic template with items that didn’t pertain to GVEA. She researched schedules used by other railbelt utilities in Alaska but ultimately ended up building one from the ground up.

“We make a lot more documents now because GVEA does so many things,” says Stacey. “From installation and service to transmitting power to our member base stretched over a large geographic area. We are also involved in charging stations for electric vehicles, on top of upgrading different technologies and techniques.”

Stacey says the most fascinating documents she’s discovered include the first board meeting minutes and the original articles of incorporation, both on microfiche film. Likewise, she says there are old drawings, surveys and handwritten maps made before computers assisted with document creation. Ultimately, Stacey says she would like to create a comprehensive archive that really highlights the knowledge gained by GVEA employees over the years.

“I would love for future employees to be able to access lessons learned from past employees who retired with a wealth of knowledge,” says Stacey. “When possible, I would love to interview people to learn how things work and how GVEA got to where it is now.”

With a degree in Northern Studies from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Stacey worked as an archivist prior to GVEA. She says organizing documents for long-term storage takes a person who pays great attention to detail, enjoys sorting and applying metadata to the final digitized document. “For the right person, records management is not a boring profession,” says Stacey.

In her free time, Stacey spends her time camping, biking, hiking and cross-country skiing with her 6 year old twins. She enjoys both the summer and winter seasons and doesn’t hesitate to go outside at 40 below. Last summer, she took up paddleboarding and looks forward to continuing that adventure this upcoming summer.